The Youth Ambassadors for Mental Health have partnered with local artists to create art as a form of stress relief.
As students return to school during these uncertain times, the Youth Ambassadors are encouraging teens to get involved in their communities and try new activities to improve their mental health.
They refer to studies which have shown that art can relieve stress and anxiety.
This is seen as particularly timely in the context of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on community and individual mental health, and equally important considering that this is Suicide Prevention Week.
The Youth Ambassadors for Mental Health work with the Alex Panton Foundation to raise awareness about mental health.
The group says it is encouraged by the support it has received from local artistes across various specialities who have supported them in their latest community project.
Its members have been speaking in glowing terms about their experiences.
Jhadari Lumley, 16, enthused that “the artists were very entertaining and inclusive. It was fun trying out different art stations and realizing that you can make art out of literally anything!”
“Mr Ebanks showed us that beautiful things can be made from plastic pollution,” she said.
That was a reference to Kerwin Ebanks, art teacher at John Gray High School and Plastic Free Cayman volunteer.
He was joined by Miss World Cayman, Jaci Patrick, in educating the students on the issues of plastic pollution and the potential for plastic as an art medium.
Other facilitators included:
• Jasmin Sumaroo, local artist and manager of Cayman Homemade Collective in Georgetown who encouraged the students to explore their creativity while making connections with community members.
• Isiah Powery demonstrated how to use metal to create intricate bracelets called chainmaille.
• Plamka Evtimov showed the teens how to find sea glass and create a range of jewelry including earrings, necklaces and rings.
• Ms. Sumaroo, showcased a new art form for students using glue and vivid paint colours. From that, the students created stunning fluid art tiles.
Youth Ambassadors for Mental Health member Isaiah, 17, thought that the event “was a very fun and enjoyable way to reconnect with the other youth ambassadors again.”
He added that, “the art was a welcomed change of pace from being at home for so long.”
Youth Ambassadors for Mental Health is a youth-led empowerment group with an aim to spread awareness about mental health in the Cayman Islands.
It has organised and has otherwise been involved in several projects promoting good mental health including this week’s campaign promoting art as a form of stress relief.
The Youth Ambassador Programme (“YAP”) was created by the Alex Panton Foundation to provide support to the youth of Cayman who experience mental health challenges, in particular anxiety and depression, in a way that builds resilience and inspires hope through the young people developing their own path forward within the program.
YAP aims to inspire the young people to offer peer support with compassion, understanding and active listening.
This week is being marked as Suicide Prevention Week leading up to World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th.
September is observed internationally as Suicide Prevention Month.
For this year the focus is on raising awareness about mental health especially due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.